'Diet' Food Labelling Tricks

Learn how to spot these misleading diet-friendly claims.
Food manufacturers love to splash health claims over their products, but you may be surprised to learn how misleading some labels actually are. So, did the manufacturers lie? Yes, they did, but legally -- by taking advantage of loopholes in the labelling laws, says Shondelle Solomon-Miles, author of The Ultimate Fat Loss Guide. This intentional deception is largely fuelled by our diet-obsessed culture, where manufacturers know words such as "low-fat", "lite", and "low-calorie" sell products.

"Food labeling is deceptive, and can trick you into buying food products that aren't true to their label," adds Solomon-Miles. Now you know why your waistline still hasn't budged. But the good news is you can outsmart these labeling tricks. Here's how:

Label Trick #1:

Less than 100 calories per serving

The numbers you see on the nutrition label are given on a per serving basis, so to lower the numbers of calories, saturated fat, sugars, and sodium, some food manufacturers make their products look healthy by downsizing the serving portion. Sometimes, the recommended serving size gets a bit ridiculous. Many cereals, for example, base their nutrition information on 1/2-cup serving size, but who eats just 1/2 cup of cereal for breakfast?

This often misleads us into believing we're eating much fewer calories than we actually are: If you open, say, a bag of chips, glance on the back and see that it has only 100 calories, you may be inclined to eat the whole bag. However, that's 100 calories per serving. "If there are four servings in that bag of chips and you eat the whole bag, then you've just eaten 400 calories," says Solomon-Miles.

Label Trick #2:

Lite or Light

When food products are labelled as "lite" or "light", most of us automatically assume they're low in fat or calories. But some food companies merely sell these "lite" versions in smaller quantities, so they appear to pack fewer fat or calories. In fact, these "lite" products may actually contain the same amount of calories (or more!) than their regular counterparts. To make things even more confusing, current labelling laws even allow these terms to be used on products that may simply be lighter in color or texture to another similar version.

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